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A History of Dance in the United States

In this course, students will explore various aspects of and experiences in dance in the United States through discussion, analysis, writing, and other academic projects. We will trace dances of early indigenous groups and enslaved Africans, as well as minstrelsy and the vaudeville era, and examine the ways in which these early traditions have influenced and are reflected in today’s culture, especially current practices in dance. The curriculum will also include an investigation of notable and diverse ballet, modern, post-modern, and diasporic dance throughout history, employing a critical lens of equity and inclusivity. Continuing to use this lens, we will deconstruct prevalent contemporary issues in dance around race, gender, and body image. Students will draw from text, film, and live performance throughout the year. This course meets during the academic day. (Open to students in grades 9-12. Full-year. ½ credit.)

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Chamber Ensembles

Chamber Ensembles are open to all students who have a minimum of three years of study on their instrument. All chamber music students must also receive weekly private instruction for their instrument. Chamber Ensemble Groups learn and perform works in a variety of styles, flexibly arranged to accommodate different playing levels and instrumentation. Groups are led by music faculty members, and students may participate as a pre-formed ensemble (duo, trio, or quartet) or are placed in an appropriate group dependent upon performance level and instrument. Groups meet once per week at the Dana Hall School of Music. All chamber groups are expected to rehearse on their own a minimum of one time per week for at least 60 minutes. As a course requirement, chamber ensembles perform together at least one time per academic year, and there are several performance opportunities throughout the year from which to choose. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Chamber Singers

Chamber Singers is open by audition to students who possess fine vocal and musicianship abilities and are committed to high performance standards. The group performs a challenging repertoire from a variety of styles ranging from classical to modern. Students strengthen musicianship skills through a variety of exercises intended to develop healthy vocal technique and abilities in improvisation, singing alone and in ensemble, sight-reading tonal and rhythm patterns, and singing melodies at sight. Emphasis is on strong vocal technique and creating expression through music. This group performs frequently at convocations, choral concerts, and other special school functions, including performances with the Chorus and with choirs from other schools. Attendance at many of these events, and the rehearsals leading up to them, is required. Group size is limited to 15-18 singers. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Chorus

The Upper School Chorus is a large ensemble that sings a wide variety of musical styles consisting of classical, musical theatre, spirituals, contemporary popular music, and music from different cultures in various languages. Members of the Chorus do not need prior musical experience; the Chorus consists of students of varying musical abilities from beginner to advanced. Students are taught the basic principles of singing, including proper breathing and posture, and they receive training in reading music, sight-singing, and solfège. Students sing unison, two-, three-, and four-part music, both accompanied and a cappella. Class is held during the academic day, but there are opportunities for performances at convocations and concerts throughout the school year. Attendance at many of these events, and the rehearsals leading up to them, is required. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Creating Character: An Acting and Costume Design Workshop

Well-regarded acting techniques, such as Viewpoints movement and Linklater voice technique, are studied to help students become more confident, flexible, and creative thinkers and performers. While learning the principles of movement, voice, character, and scene study for an actor, students work on audition and polished performance pieces. The principles of costume design for the stage are also explored and experienced, from research, design concept, and sketching to hand-stitching techniques, alterations, and fittings. Themes and plays for the course alternate and cover a wide range of style and genre, prompting students to engage with diverse voices and movements in theatre, which in turn open windows to our world in both the past and the present. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years in order to collaborate with a new cohort of artists, develop a portfolio of costume designs, and perform for a variety of audiences.

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Dance I

This level is for students with minimal or no background in dance. This course emphasizes dance appreciation and fundamental skills building. Classes include barre exercises, warmups in the center, stretches, and cardiovascular exercises, as well as combinations across the floor. Each week, students in Dance I take one class in Ballet, Jazz, or Modern (see below), as well as at least one additional class in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, or Hip-Hop. Students enrolled in Dance I have the opportunity to perform in dance showings held in the fall and spring trimesters. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Dance II

This level is for the intermediate dancer who has some dance background. Classes include barre exercises, warmups in the center, stretches, and cardiovascular exercises, as well as combinations across the floor. Each week, students in Dance II take one class in Ballet, Jazz, or Modern (see below), as well as at least one additional class in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, or Hip-Hop. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Dance III

This level provides fast-moving, advanced classes for students with a strong dance background. Classes include barre exercises, warmups in the center, stretches, and cardiovascular exercises, as well as combinations across the floor. Each week, students in Dance III take a class in Ballet, as well as at least one additional class in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, or Hip-Hop (see below). Dance III students are also invited, but not required, to participate in Dance Repertory Group, and all have the opportunity to perform in informal and formal dance showings throughout the school year. To enrich the dance experience, guest artists are occasionally invited to teach master classes in various dance styles. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Dance Repertory Group

An audition-based choreography, rehearsal, and performance course, this ensemble for advanced dancers focuses on performance skills, compositional tools with which to develop choreography, and the production of informal and formal concerts. Students in this course occasionally have the opportunity to perform in pieces created by guest choreographers. Dance Repertory Group students must be enrolled in Dance III. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Fall Play

The Fall Play is a theatrical production that varies in style from year to year. Students audition to be an actor in the production or sign up for a technical theatre position. Each production offers challenging roles for experienced performers and ensemble parts. Students learn about the process of making theatre as they create a performance for the school community and the public. Performances are open to the public.

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Flute Choir

Flute Choir is open by audition to students who are accomplished in flute and committed to high performance standards. Members of Flute Choir must also receive private instruction in flute in addition to the class. The ensemble meets Thursdays from 5:15 – 6 p.m. The group performs repertoire that spans from baroque to modern music. There are several performance opportunities throughout the year and participation in at least three performances is required. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Grade 5: Theatre Productions

The fifth-grade students undertake a short theatre production as an interdisciplinary project with World Languages. A play about the ancient world is performed as a class project, and all of the students experience being part of a theatre production.

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Grade 5 Workshop: Creative Movement

In the fifth-grade creative movement course, students learn from a model that draws upon dance and theater technique to explore fundamentals in the performing arts. Collaborative creation between and among students is encouraged. Basic modern dance skills, spatial awareness, and compositional elements are emphasized.

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Grade 6 Workshop: Dance

In Dance Workshop, sixth graders learn from a creative movement model that draws upon the fundamentals of dance technique and terminology. Basic jazz movements, spatial awareness, stage directions, and choreographic elements are emphasized.

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Grade 6 Workshop: Music

Students are introduced to all of the instruments in a standard symphony orchestra through notation projects and resources on the iPad. In addition, students review basic music notation and performance concepts. The class culminates with a trip to hear a performance by The Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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Grade 6 Workshop: Theatre

Students gain an understanding of the key elements of theatre: focus, imagination, collaboration, and communication. They practice these fundamental skills through movement and exercises from the Viewpoints actor training method. Culminating projects, including silent films and student-written stage adaptations of English class readings develop an appreciation for the creative process.

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Grade 7 Workshop: Costume Design & Playwriting

In this theatre workshop, students experience both elements of a character-driven, collaborative project. In the playwriting unit, students write a monologue inspired by their English class readings and learn elements of speech for performance. In the costume design unit, students begin with principles of movement for actors based on the Viewpoints actor training method. They then learn basic sewing techniques and the steps of costume design for theatre. The trimester culminates in a performance of the playwriting students’ monologues and a showing of costume designs.

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Grade 7 Workshop: Music Composition

Students expand upon their knowledge of music notation through a series of assignments using a web-based composition tool, such as NoteFlight. Concepts covered include motif, contour, question/answer phrases, chord progressions, augmentation, diminution, and sequencing. After exploring various musical structures and forms, the trimester culminates with each student creating an original 32-bar composition with melody and accompaniment.

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Grade 8 Workshop: In the Director’s Chair: Directing and Acting Workshop

Students focus on stage direction, acting, and scene design. Each student directs a scene from contemporary dramatic literature. Activities include individual and group acting and directing exercises, individual and group in-class performances, peer response sessions, viewing and discussion of performance clips from notable directors, short in-class writing exercises, and short readings. Skills learned in this course are related to the study of Romeo and Juliet in English 8.

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Grade 8 Workshop: Introduction to Technical Theatre Design

Conducted in the Theatre Tech Shop, this course is structured to develop skills and confidence in the safe and practical use of workshop power tools. After an exploration of the design process, the class culminates in building props or set pieces for a Middle School or Upper School play.

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Grade 8 Workshop: Soundtracks and Scores: The Music of Film

Students study the styles, techniques, and influences of film composers. After exploring the work of the masters, students choose a 4-5 minute animated short video and create their own original soundtrack in GarageBand. Concepts covered include creating timelines, basic orchestration, and working with markers, loops, sound effects, and mixing.

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Grade 8 Workshop: Step It Up: Dance Composition and Performance

This course is designed for students with a strong background in dance and a curiosity for dance composition concepts. Classes include a warmup based on a combination of modern dance techniques as well as the introduction and exploration of various dance composition exercises. Students’ work throughout the trimester culminates in a performance project. (Open to students with permission of the Director of Dance.)

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Grade 8 Workshop: Step It Up: Technique and Performance

This course is designed for students with a strong background in dance. Classes include a warmup, stretching and strengthening, progressions across the floor, compositional elements, and center combinations with a focus on performance quality. Class content draws on elements of post-modern techniques. (Open to students with permission of the Director of Dance.)

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Grade 8 Workshop: Wild Styles: Acting Across History and the World

Students explore the connections between theatre and society in this scene-study class, through reading, viewing, and performing scenes from important playwrights and artistic movements in theatre history. Particular attention is paid to the theatre styles and dramatic literature of the countries studied in Social Studies 8.

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Grades 5-8: Private Music Lessons

Dana Hall students, regardless of previous music experience, may enroll in private music lessons through the Dana Hall School of Music. Instruction is offered in voice, including classical, jazz/pop and musical theatre, and on a wide variety of instruments, including piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, drums, flute, clarinet, trumpet, French horn, oboe, saxophone, trombone, harp, electric guitar, and electric bass, and erhu. Private music lessons take place once per week at the Dana Hall School of Music. Dana Hall music faculty members are professional musicians and educators drawn from the Boston area, and they tailor private lessons to address the learning style and goals of each student, from the beginner to the advanced student aspiring to a career in music. Numerous performance opportunities and faculty and guest artist recitals are available to students throughout the year. Students may enroll in music instruction over multiple years. (Open to students in grades 5-8. Full year. Ongoing registration. Additional music tuition charges apply.)

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Grades 5 and 6 Ensemble: Chorus

The fifth- and sixth-grade students come together to form this choral group. The Chorus sings a variety of music while learning about breathing, intonation, and reading music. Chorus performs four times a year, including a featured performance in the annual Revels production.

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensemble: Instrumental Chamber Ensemble (Audition required)

Chamber Ensemble Groups learn and perform works in a variety of styles, flexibly arranged to accommodate different playing levels and instrumentation. Groups are led by music faculty members and meet once per week. Chamber Groups have the opportunity to perform at varying Dana Hall occasions throughout the year. Membership is by audition or permission of the instructor. (Additional music tuition charges apply.)

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensembles: Chorus

Chorus sings a variety of music ranging from folk songs to musical theatre pieces to neo-classical arrangements. Intonation and music theory are key elements of this ensemble.

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensembles: Keyboard Ensemble

This ensemble is geared toward students who are familiar with basic notation or have been exposed to instrumental music in the past. Students use both acoustic pianos and USB keyboards to learn piano technique. Students practice scales and chord progressions in major and minor keys, as well as play and read repertoire pieces. Along with ensemble pieces, students learn solo repertoire for short informal performances at the end of each trimester.

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensembles: Ukulele Ensemble

Students learn basic technique that includes how to hold their instrument, tune the ukulele, and coordinate fingering and strumming. They learn how to read a melody line, as well as read chords and basic charts. Students are encouraged to learn songs by ear as well as read melodic lines. They will play arrangements of songs together for various performances. Students also learn about the history of the ukulele and the guitar and their importance in jazz and popular music. Students are encouraged to perform in their own informal recital for each other at the end of the year.

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Jazz Combo

Jazz Combo is a small group class that welcomes instrumentalists and vocalists with a minimum of three years of music study in either classical, jazz, or rock. Students are placed in small groups (duo, trio, or quartet) and meet weekly with the jazz instructor. The class teaches the basics of improvisation and ensemble performance. Members must also receive weekly private instruction for their instrument or voice. Jazz Combo members are required to participate in at least one performance per year. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Music Theory and Composition

Classes in music theory and composition are open to all students with a minimum of one year of instrumental or vocal studies. Students may study privately or are grouped in classes according to level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced). Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Private Music Lessons

Dana Hall students, regardless of previous music experience, may enroll in private music lessons through the Dana Hall School of Music. Instruction is offered in voice, including classical, jazz/pop, and musical theatre, and on a wide variety of instruments, including piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, drums, flute, clarinet, trumpet, French horn, oboe, saxophone, trombone, harp, electric guitar, electric bass, and erhu. Private music lessons take place once per week at the Dana Hall School of Music. Dana Hall music faculty members are professional musicians and educators drawn from the Boston area, and they tailor private lessons to address the learning style and goals of each student from the beginner to the advanced student aspiring to a career in music. Numerous performance opportunities and faculty and guest artist recitals are available to students throughout the year. Students may enroll in music instruction over multiple years.

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Rock Band

Rock Band welcomes instrumentalists and vocalists with a minimum of one year of music study in either classical, jazz, or rock. Students are placed in small groups (duo, trio, or quartet) and meet weekly with the instructor. The class teaches ensemble performance, rock repertoire, rhythm, and musicianship. Rock Band members must also receive weekly private instruction for their instrument or voice. Rock Band members are required to participate in at least one performance per year. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Songwriters’ Experience

In this course, students explore the world of creative songwriting and composition.  There is no need for prior experience with music. Students learn about lyric writing, music history, and music theory as it pertains to composition. Students create their own works through the use of computers, electric keyboards, and music software. By year’s end, students make a CD featuring the work they composed in the course.

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Spring Musical/Dance

The Spring Musical is produced in conjunction with area schools. Show selection aims to expose students to a range of musical and dance styles. Students audition to be an actor in the production or sign up for a technical theatre position. Each production offers challenging roles for experienced performers and ensemble parts. Students learn about the process of making theatre as they create a performance for the school community and the public. Performances are open to the public.

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Student-Directed Play

The Student-Directed Play is an entirely student-run theatrical production, with the support of the Director of Theater. Through an application process, students will be chosen to fill the positions of director, technical director, production manager, and stage manager. This team will facilitate the audition, casting, and rehearsal process. The cast and crew will explore the logistics of staging a full-length production, resulting in a performance in front of an audience.

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Technical Theatre

Technology and artistic creativity combine in this course as we explore the challenges and rewards of designing sets, props, lighting, and live and recorded sound for the Upper School Fall Play, the Dance Concert, and the Upper School Musical. Following initial instruction in the skills involved, students become a member of the Tech Crew for two of the three major shows. The course is practical, offering opportunities for hands-on experience with professional equipment in the theatre, and with the building tools available in the scene shop. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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To Hold the Mirror Up to Nature: An Acting, Directing, and Playwriting Workshop

All students will develop and refine skills in acting, including scene study, voice, and movement. Training in Viewpoints composition will help students develop clear storytelling and divergent thinking skills, while Linklater voice helps students develop healthy and strong speaking technique. Students will work in ensembles on polished performance pieces; interested students will learn directing skills while in this workshop mode, including crafting a vision for a play, interpreting text with actors, communicating with designers, and communicating ideas clearly to an audience. Students interested in playwriting will have the opportunity to create new work within the structure of the course. Themes and plays for the course alternate and cover a wide range of style and genre, so students may enroll in this course over multiple years in order to develop a deeper knowledge of theatre histories and literature and gain experience as a leader and actor. There will be opportunities to engage with the Boston theatre community.

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Women in Music

Women in Music is an investigation into and a celebration of women’s musical activities in a variety of capacities and musical traditions. This course will cover not only women composers, but also women performers, women patrons, and the depiction of women in the marketing and consumption of music. We will survey a variety of music styles, from medieval chants to current popular music. The course will conclude with a student-chosen project involving either songwriting, performing, or an oral presentation highlighting an aspect of women in music.

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